active-sts | March 4, 2017

These social impact bonds have an old-fashioned name: tax-free munis

The team at


Washington D.C. (green infrastructure), Seattle (affordable housing) and Philadelphia (low-income housing repairs) are all issuing bonds to fund quality-of-life improvements that could drive long-term fiscal value.

We reported last month on growing impact investor interest in the $3.7 trillion muni-bond market (see, “How investors can help rebuild communities with muni bonds”).

This week, Kresge Foundation highlighted the lack of socio-economic factors in muni-bond risk frameworks. Poverty levels, income inequality, availability of affordable housing and civic engagement “could significantly impact the long-term fiscal and operational soundness” of a city, write Kresge’s Kimberlee Cornett and Napoleon Wallace.

Activest is a new platform to steer investors away from cities that charge residents excessive fees, for example.

“We think we can start to create a municipal justice index, and give cities a score on how their social impact practices compare to each other,” says founder Ryan Bowers.

Photo credit: Peter Baker via flickr